Friday, May 28, 2010
THE STATE OF PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY ON 28MAY10
1. POLITICS: The Democratic Party of Hawaii is not unlike a herd of cats. Once Senator Dan Inouye could pretty much dictate state politics with Governor John Burns and the local unions. Apparently, there is today no cloutful leader. Their most sensible strategy was, as Neil Abercrombie had already prematurely abandoned Congress to run for the state governorship, for Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa to gallantly step aside to allow Mufi Hannemann to challenge Charles Djou for Congress. Mufi's long term ambition is to get there, anyway. But, to no one's surprise, Mufi announces his challenge to Abercrombie yesterday. While fortunately for them the primary and general election system will mean that either Abercrombie or Hannemann should still beat Duke Aiona to become the next governor of Hawaii, all is not clear for the House race if Case and Hanabusa so significantly piss off their their opposing supporters that Djou again sneaks in. Otherwise, if unemployment remains under 10% in October, the Gulf oil leak is capped by then and nothing else much happens, Democrats should maintain leadership in the House of Representatives and Senate in DC.
2. ENERGY AND GLOBAL WARMING: The status of the refurbished Kerry-Lieberman (Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on the right dropped out of co-sponsorship) Energy Reform Bill, as is used in the mortuary business, is DOA--Dead On re-Arrival. [As an interesting aside, at one time there were more morticians in Congress than scientists/engineers. Apparently, the current 110th has seven scientists/engineers to one mortician. Thirteen others are from the medical profession.] While it probably was not going to pass anyway, the change now allows States to have veto rights on any offshore drilling, picking off a number of Republicans in the Senate who might have actually supported this legislation. Should even a minor nuclear powerplant accident occur, also forget those nuclear power clauses, losing more votes, and, as pinpointed in my Huffington Post article on the subject (and there were more than 100 comments) written just about two years ago, we will never have a national energy policy. The real problem? THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE...OR LACK OF, ACTUALLY. A kind of cap and trade carbon dioxide control provision was included in this latest package. On this note, if you need some humor in climate change, click on "The Top 100 Effects of Global Warming." This one was published almost three years ago.
3. WAR: a. American deaths in Afghanistan just reached 1000, where there are now more of our troops than in Iraq, where the death toll is approaching 4,300, or 4,400, depending who you ask. Not sure exactly what is being represented, but 777 journalists and academics have also died in Iraq. The civilian body count in Iraq through violence is in the range of 100,000.
....................b. The Korean situation is on edge. The fear is that irrationality will prevail. I cancelled a trip to Seoul.
....................c. About a year ago, Iran re-deployed missiles towards nuclear targets in Israel. More recently, the Israeli Air Force has practiced simulated strikes at potential Iranian nuclear sites. Hmm, I wonder if it will be safe for me to go to Abu Dhabi and Dubai as currently planned?
4. GULF OIL SPILL: The largest previous oil spill in the U.S. was the ExxonValdez 11 million gallon disaster off Alaska. Current indications, contrary to what BP has been saying, is that the current Gulf escape is at least 18 million, and as much as 39 million, gallons. This is still relatively picayune compared to the 450 million gallon spill departing Saddam's troops inflicted on Kuwait. We remember those oil fires, but, somehow, this relative cataclysm hardly made the news. There is some consensus, incidentally, that the current outflow could in effect be doubled by including equivalent methane also leaking. Keep in mind that one molecule of methane is 20 times more dangerous than a molecule of carbon dioxide for global warming, so you've got to wonder about some triggering of The Venus Syndrome. Not because of this one well, but as a catalyst to initiate the cascade.
5. ECONOMY: First Greece, now the Euro. Today, you will get 0.81 Euros for your American dollar. Two years ago you would only have gotten 63 cents. In 2002 they were equal, that is, one Euro for $1. So what's so bad about the Euro today being about midway compared to 2002? As European products are now cheaper than two years ago, this should strengthen the European economy. But as they caused the current stock market dip, shouldn't this be good? You can go in circles, but today the Dow Jones Industrials further dropped 122 to 10,136, 2.8% lower than at the start of the year. World markets were mixed, with Europe down and Orient up. Gold went up $3/toz to $1214 and crude oil is at $74/barrel.